Community Services Sector in Werribee

Community Services Employer panel
30 October 2017

Panel members:      

Shara Thisananthan (HR Partner) – Wyndham City
Jaicy Kumar (Business Services Manager) – Wyndham Community and Education Centre

Hosted by:                  The Skills and Jobs Centre, Gordon TAFE, Werribee

The Community Services employer panel provided an opportunity for Gordon students and Skills & Jobs Centre participants interested in a career in Community Services to gain an insight into the sector and what employers are looking for in potential employees.  Below is an overview of what it’s like to work in the community services sector and information, tips and tricks from our panel.

Make a real difference in people’s lives

Working in community services, you have an immediate and profound impact on the welfare of vulnerable people.

Every single day you make a difference to the quality of people’s lives. Your actions help those who are struggling the most to build better lives, and to give them hope for a brighter future.

You also help to build stronger, more inclusive communities.

What an amazing career. Can you imagine the job satisfaction you would get from that?!

Job variety: one qualification, lots of roles

Unlike a lot of other sectors, community services gives employees a huge selection of client areas to work in.

This means that you can try out a number of different areas, before settling on the one that you are really passionate about. It also gives you room to move if you feel stagnant in a particular job or area.

Client areas in the community services sector include:

  • Aged care
  • Disability services
  • Indigenous and multicultural support
  • Asylum seekers and refugee services
  • Mental health and counselling
  • Child protection
  • Family services
  • Schools
  • Emergency relief
  • Youth justice

(https://www.opencolleges.edu.au/blog/2016/08/01/ca-10-reasons-start-career-community-services/)

Panel insights and career story – Jaicy Kumar

Wyndham CEC has been providing educational programs and community services to the local community for 40 years.  Wyndham CEC offers a range of programs and services that include: pre-accredited and accredited training courses and community programs for individuals between the ages of 15 and 64 from a broad cross section of the community with a strong emphasis on the disadvantaged, youth, refugee and humanitarian entrants, and other new and emerging communities.

The types of opportunities that may be available are mainly associated with teaching, caseworkers and business including facilities management, bookkeeping and HR.  There are also volunteering opportunities.

What we look for when recruiting:

>Passion
>Languages
>Interest in the sector
>Commitment
>Industry knowledge
>People skills
>Team work

When recruiting for a vacancy, the HR department advertise firstly to the volunteer pool, networks and then externally online.

Personal Career Story – Shara Thisananthan

Shara graduated with a bachelor degree in Information Systems from Melbourne University and secured an entry level role for two years with Baker’s Delight in HR/Finance/Production.  Shara then moved to Wyndham and applied for a role in Aged Care/Disability wanting some work life balance and a job in the local community.  Whilst she wasn’t success in gaining the first role, she was offered another role as the employer could see potential.  She worked in Administration support and was able to demonstrate commitment along with many other transferable skills, and was subsequently offered an ongoing role.  Shara reassessed her career again and after returning to work after some maternity leave applied for an internal role that became available in HR and Administration.  Shara’s current role is Business Partner.

Shara’s tips

>Continue to learn and develop new skills (more flexible training/courses are now available online)
>Be open minded and embrace change
>Demonstrate commitment and passion

Panel insights and career story – Shara Thisananthan  

Wyndham City are located across Werribee, Tarneit and Point Cook with a focus on diversity, culture within the community, being progressive and dynamic, and working in partnership. 

Recruitment Process

>Wyndham Careers website (job alerts may be set up)
>Online application process
>Positions may also be advertised on Seek and in local papers
>Tertiary placements may also be arranged – contact relevant area
>Information and tips about resume, cover letter and key selection criteria
>Shortlisting process
>Interview (3 parts) 1) Questions, 2) Behavioural Interview (use STAR technique) 3) Technical questions specific to role.
>Pre-employment check – Police check, Working with Children, and sometimes a Psychometric test assessment.
>Referee check

Personal Career story – Jaicy 

Jaicy began her career as a scientist in intellectual property and litigation.  She was very interested and passionate about the community sector, in particular Social Enterprise and organisations such as Saffron Kitchen, and was involved and volunteered for five years.

This experience and passion led Jaicy to apply for her current business role.  Jaicy promoted and demonstrated her commitment and passion in her application.  Jaicy also demonstrated and included her strengths and transferable skills.

Tips
>Perseverance
>Ask HR for feedback
>Apply your transferable skills to the role
>Tailor your resume for each role
>Spend time on your application
>Attention to detail
>Build skills

Insights into Volunteering – good for you, good for your career.

In recognition of National Volunteer Week in May the Skills and Jobs Centre held an ‘Insights into Volunteering’ industry panel where participants heard from 3 local organisations in the volunteering sector – Volunteering Geelong, Diversitat and Karingal/St. Laurence. They discussed their organisations, types of volunteering, what they look for in a volunteer and the process to become one. Here is a brief rundown of the key points mentioned during the session.

Volunteering Geelong

Volunteering Geelong is the peak body for volunteering in the Geelong region covering City of Greater Geelong, Golden Plains, Surf Coast and the Colac Otway Shires with over 400 organisations registered with them. They have successfully matched over 5,000 volunteers to relevant organisations, as Jason Doherty the Acting Manager light-heartedly called it, “Volunteer Dating”. They will assist a potential volunteer by matching them with a suitable organisation that would benefit from the volunteers time, skills, abilities or interests and provide them both with all the information and support needed during their volunteering commitment.  Right now is a great time to get in contact with Volunteering Geelong with over 450 current vacancies for volunteers listed on their website.

People can volunteer their time anywhere from:

  • Arts/Culture/Heritage
  • Children & Youth
  • Disability Services
  • Education
  • Emergency Services
  • Environment/Conservation
  • Ethnic Community
  • Health
  • Human Rights
  • Recreation
  • Seniors/Aged Care
  • Projects
  • Events

In 2012 Volunteering Geelong also introduced ‘Bite-Size Volunteering’, a program designed for people who are unable to commit to regular volunteering. ‘Bite-Size Volunteering’ offers flexible or project based volunteering where you work on a short term project at times and days that suit you and the organisation.

As long as you meet the minimum age requirement of 15 and pass required Police checks then there is no limit what you can do and how old you can be as a volunteer, depending on the need. You can even volunteer to help volunteers!

Diversitat

Diversitat is a not-for-profit organisation and charity also known as Geelong Ethnic Communities Council and they offer services in refugee/migrant settlement, community development, youth services, aged support, training as well as various arts and events. Diversitat also manage The Pulse radio, Wholefoods café, The Oppe Shoppe, Diversitat Training and run events such as The Pako Festa.

According to Monica Baulch from Diversitat, they currently have 600 volunteers registered with them and approximately 1600 clients but there is always a need for more volunteers and there are many ways in which you can help. Often a volunteer is needed to provide a link to the community for refugees and migrants with programs such as the Orientation Program where volunteers assist with basic skills like using public transport or their ‘Homework Club’ where volunteers help children with their school readers. A volunteer can also assist with home tutoring, the 12 week ‘Driver Practice Program’, the ‘Housing Support Program’ or even with netball, soccer, yoga and other sports.

Monica stated the process for becoming a volunteer with Diversitat takes between 6 to 8 weeks and includes a satisfactory police check, an interview, reference checks and cultural awareness training. To be successful a volunteer will need to be passionate about making a difference, be able to share their personal skills and ways they can help, be empathetic, have no prejudices and be able to build relationships through a 12 month commitment.

Diversitat will see the arrival of 200 – 300 new refugee clients in the upcoming months so if you think this could be a perfect fit for you then I highly recommend you give them a call or attend their next information session in July.

(KSL) Karingal / St. Laurence

Karingal and St. Laurence have recently merged after being 2 separate entities to become KSL, a not-for-profit organisation which provides many support services in disability, aged care, mental health and related services and training.  They are located through-out Victoria, Queensland and South Australia providing support for people to engage in the community.

Maddie Kirwan from KSL stated that some of the important ways that you can volunteer with them is with their “buddy system” which involves spending time with their clients via shared interests. This could include simply going to the park or the movies or the art gallery or just any activity you both enjoy, KSL also accept volunteers in their ‘Do Care’ Program in their Aged Care section where people are asked to volunteer on a monthly basis. To be successful in becoming a volunteer for KSL you must possess a passion for assisting clients achieve their individual goals, must show empathy, reliability, understanding, care and be flexible to client needs. Volunteers are expected to commit at least 2 hours per week for a 12 month period to provide consistency in building relationships with their clients.

KSL’s process for becoming one of their volunteers is through making an enquiry, an interview and then subsequent application where you will be required to undergo a ‘Police Check’ and obtain a ‘Working With Children Check’. KSL will provide various training elements and ongoing support to all their volunteers to ensure the best quality support possible.

Why should you volunteer?

The benefits of volunteering can be endless in not only the satisfaction of helping others in need, improving your own mental and physical health but also in developing avenues to employment. Studies show some of these benefits include;

  • gaining new skills and knowledge
  • possible pathways to employment
  • networking and building relationships
  • providing career/work experience
  • enjoying a sense of achievement and fulfilment
  • personal development and improving self-confidence
  • enhancing social skills and work skills
  • enjoying better physical and mental health
  • connecting to and better understanding your community
  • bringing meaning and purpose to your life

If you feel like you would like to get involved as a volunteer or believe you have something to offer, then I encourage you to get in contact with any of these organisations or speak with the friendly staff at The Skills and Jobs Centre who can guide you in the right direction.

Quote – “The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.”  Barack Obama

Contacts:

Volunteering Geelong

(03) 5221 1377

http://www.volunteeringgeelong.org.au/home/

Diversitat

(03) 5221 6044

http://diversitat.org.au/contact/

Karingal/St. Laurence

(03) 5249 8900

http://www.karingal.org.au/

Careers in Community Services!

Recently, the Skills & Jobs Centre hosted an Industry Q&A on the Community Service Sector in Geelong.

Panel members included:

  • Tara Lodge – HR, Barwon Child, Youth & Family
  • Toni Gauntlett – Manager, Family & Community Services, Barwon Child, Youth & Family
  • Christine Brooks – Networker, Barwon Network of Neighbourhood Houses
  • Cathy Walker – Community Development, City of Greater Geelong

EMPLOYER SNAPSHOT: BARWON CHILD, YOUTH & FAMILY

  • 315 employees in Geelong and Colac
  • Only 15% of workers are male
  • Merged to include a breadth of platforms to deliver services to families
  • Focus on prevention and early intervention
  • Early education, including at home care, foster care and residential
  • Youth space includes justice and homelessness
  • Headspace came on board last year
  • Lots of different opportunities
  • Roles are based on funding, so don’t be put off by contract positions.
  • Family friendly employer, including the following options, which can be discussed at interview:
    • Job Share
    • ADO’s
    • Purchased Leave
    • Negotiable start & end times/hours worked
    • School Hours
    • Time in Lieu options
  • Professional development & training calendar with lots of opportunities. Study leave is offered to continue study and upskill.

Key Attributes

  • Teamwork – supporting each other.
  • Emotional Intelligence – working with people to empower them, not doing but helping, working through it with them.

Job Opportunities

  • From Childcare to Mental Health Nurses, Support Workers
  • Bus Driver vacancy currently advertised
  • Offers student placements
  • Volunteering – Coordinator will match with areas in need.
    • Home tutoring
    • Supporting refugees
    • Foster Care Program
    • Volunteers to offer mentoring to help with homework or to take on outings e.g. fishing.
    • Contact Janet Mannix, the Volunteering Coordinator
  • Alcohol & Other Drugs
    • Headspace
    • Youth Program in AOD
    • AOD Unit – Specialist Services
  • Casual Jobs – advertised the same as ongoing positions and often based on funding.

How to apply

  • All vacancies are advertised on the website.
  • Also advertise on Facebook, LinkedIn, SEEK, Ethical Jobs and Deakin Jobshop.
  • Email your resume.
  • Must address Key Selection Criteria and it needs to be relevant to the Position Description.
  • Outline what you can bring to the role.
  • Need to have volunteer experience if you have no experience.
  • Spell check and proof read.
  • Can only apply online.
  • Read the instructions.
  • For Youth Services, need a Cert III or IV in Youth Services.
  • For Childcare, a Cert III in Children’s Services.
  • Looking for the right candidate, rather than hours you can commit, so contact them as they may be flexible.

Helpful Tips

  • Volunteer if you have something to offer.
  • Think about your life experience and how that might help someone else.
  • Can’t teach you to be a good person, so present your personality in all stages of recruitment (telephone call, interview etc.)
  • Looking at the person, rather than the qualification.

EMPLOYER SNAPSHOT: NEIGHBOURHOOD HOUSES

  • 27 Neighbourhood Houses in the Barwon Region
  • All Neighbourhood Houses are very different, as they respond to the needs of the community, ‘If you’ve been to 1 Neighbourhood House, you’ve been to 1 Neighbourhood house!’
  • For example, Queenscliff offers specific Arts programs.
  • Neighbourhood Houses are a central place to go for whatever you are interested in.
  • Offers a central location to search all of the neighbourhood houses.
  • All Centres run youth programs.

Key Attributes

  • Flexibility
  • Responsive to needs
  • Open
  • Approachable
  • Welcoming & Inclusive
  • Adaptable
  • Professionalism
  • Personality

Job Opportunities

  • Co-ordinators to run the houses – 3 or 4 houses will be advertising for Coordinators in the next few months.
  • Tutors run classes in a range of areas, including:
    • Technology, iPads
    • Cert III, IV & Diploma courses
  • Volunteer opportunities – members are encouraged to volunteer and also become tutors. If you have an interest or skill, go to a Neighbourhood House to offer your skills. Also advertised through Volunteering Geelong and Give Where You Live.
  • Childcare – both volunteer and paid positions. The Lorne Neighbourhood House is currently advertising for a Childcare Assistant.
  • Gardeners – volunteer or paid positions.
  • Reception/Administration.
  • Wide variety of opportunities – make contact with your local Neighbourhood House to find out about opportunities.
  • Help with resume writing, interview skills and gaining employment.
  • Youth Programs – always looking for volunteers.

How to apply

  • Need to address Key Selection Criteria (won’t interview if not addressed).
  • Advertise in the Geelong Advertiser, Colac Herald and local papers (e.g. Echo & Surf Coast Times).
  • Advertise on Ethical Jobs and sometimes on SEEK.
  • Ads will also go out through the Neighbourhood House network.
  • Posted on Social Media, including Facebook.

Key Tips

  • Personality is more important than qualifications.
  • No matter what your experience, think about what skills you learnt in that experience. For example, if you worked at KFC, think about the skills and qualities – customer service, team work etc.

EMPLOYER SNAPSHOT: CITY OF GREATER GEELONG

  • 2nd biggest employer in the Geelong region
  • Employs 2,500 people
  • Community Development area includes:
    • Case Management.
    • Supporting communities in need with a focus on Whittington, Corio, Norlane and Grovedale.
    • Developing Drug & Alcohol and Gambling Policy.
    • Promoting Diversity in the Community.
    • Police Based Team – works on the principle that there is nothing wrong with people, but that the system has gaps.
    • Working with services, like neighbourhood houses, on social enterprise and training.
    • Digital Inclusion Project in 3219 postcode – looking at the issue of low socio-economic areas having less digital inclusion, was previously externally funded but has now been funded by local council.
    • Understanding local and national policy and how that impacts on people.
    • Advocating to get change.
  • Flexible employer, including options for:
    • Weekend work – festivals, events etc.
    • Working from home
    • Co-working spaces
    • Communicating in a variety of forms

Key Attributes

  • Non-judgmental
  • It is your whole life, not just your 9 to 5
  • Passionate
  • Fresh perspective
  • Commitment to social justice

Job Opportunities

  • Volunteering
    • L2P
    • YouthCan
  • Student Placements
  • Employs students and casual workers
  • Youth Work
  • Roads, Rates and Rubbish
  • Casual opportunities in the youth area
  • Traineeships

How to apply

  • Advertised on Social Media & Online.
  • Advertised in CAOS – weekly newsletter in Norlane/Corio that reaches 500 people.
  • Advertised online on SEEK, Ethical Jobs and Info Exchange Jobseeker website.
  • Need to have a Working with Children Check and Police Check
  • Looking for who you are and that you have an understanding of what’s required.
  • The contact name is always listed, so make contact with them, and ask 3 relevant questions, so they can look out for your name.

Helpful Tips

  • Networks are fundamental.
  • Work to build your reputation.
  • Subscribe to council newsletters from the website.
  • Don’t necessarily have to have the qualifications. Apply anyway if you have the skills and make the phone call to clarify with the hiring manager.

Industry Tips

  • The industry is short of people, with a particular shortage in male role models.
  • Casual and contract opportunities are ok as they can lead to more permanent work and get your foot in the door!
  • Recruitment is more focused on who you are and what you are passionate about, rather than qualifications. You need to be the right type of person.

Top tips from employers on getting a job in Health & Community Services in Geelong

The Skills and Jobs Centre recently held an employer panel as part of our Festival of Change, featuring representatives from Barwon Health, Karingal and the City of Greater Geelong. In addition to providing an overview of their organisations, the panel offered some excellent tips and tricks for those wanting to work within the sector.

With Geelong becoming a Health and Education hub, working in the Health sector offers secure, long-term work. There are a variety of roles available in addition to specialist medical positions, however these roles don’t tend to be highly paid. People who work in the sector do so because they want to work with and support others, not because they want to earn the big bucks. If this sounds like you, then one of these organisations may be the employer for you:

Employer Snapshot: Barwon Health

  • Employs over 7,000 staff across 22 sites located from Geelong all the way down to Warrnambool;
  • Upcoming additions include a new hospital which is being built in the north of Geelong;
  • In the near future there will be a focus on the areas of Telehealth (a collection of means or methods for enhancing health care, public health, and health education delivery and support using telecommunications technologies) and Health Promotion;
  • Positions, including the administrative casual pool, are advertised on their website and Seek.

Christine from Talent Acquisition made the following suggestions for those wanting to work at Barwon Health:

  • Connect with Barwon Health on social media to remain up-to-date on what is happening within the organisation. Mentioning an upcoming project and highlighting how you could contribute during the recruitment process shows initiative and a real interest in the work they do;
  • View videos on their YouTube channel to find out more about the different teams and roles;
  • Volunteer – not only will it provide you with invaluable experience and connections within the organisation, it also allows you to apply for internal vacancies. Available volunteer positions can be found on their website;
  • When applying, make your resume as clear and easy to read as possible, with your skills easily identifiable;
  • Include a summary/profile section at the top of your resume which provides a snapshot of your experience;
  • Incorporate Barwon Health’s values into your cover letter;
  • If you are successful in gaining an interview, make sure you know both the values and their definitions.

Employer Snapshot: Karingal

  • Employs over 17,000 staff across Victoria, South Australia and Queensland;
  • Provides aged care, disability and mental health support services;
  • Additional arms are Karingal Training and Kommercial (catering services);
  • Will shortly be merging with St Laurence, with specific dates etc. still to be determined;

Ashlan had the following advice for those wanting to work at Karingal:

  • There is no minimum qualification requirements for their individual support workers. Instead they will be trained through Karingal Training once hired;
  • People wanting to get a taste of the sector before committing to training/a full role should consider volunteering. Karingal currently have 100’s of volunteers in the aged care and disability areas;
  • Their positions are advertised on their website and on Seek;
  • They have 4 rounds of recruitment each year, which last roughly 6-8 weeks;
  • Karingal look for staff that want to be part of the team and share in their vision, mission and guiding principles.

Employer Snapshot: City of Greater Geelong

  • Employs 300 care workers, mostly in home support, working as a mobile care force;
  • Their philosophy is doing things with people rather than for people. The goal is to help people remain independent;
  • Aged Care is one of the most secure areas to work in locally;
  • Similar reforms will occur in aged care over the next 5-10 years as has been seen with NDIS.

Geoff from Aged and Disability Services had the following advice for those wanting to work at the City of Greater Geelong:

  • All recruitment is done through Direct Recruitment, including administrative support staff;
  • They tend to employ 3-4 new workers each month;
  • The minimum qualification level is Certificate III in a relevant area such as Aged Care or Individual Support;
  • In addition to the qualification, practical experience is highly sought after – having relevant volunteer experience will benefit your application;
  • The most successful Care Workers are able to help people but keep some professional distance and do not allow themselves to become too affected.

A final few tips:

  • The sector is a small community within Geelong – network as much as possible!
  • Create a LinkedIn profile and actively engage with the organisation/s you are interested in working for;
  • Research the organisations you are interested in, particularly their values and missions;
  • Ensure you have reasonable IT skills;
  • Keep up-to-date regarding changes to the sector and reflect this knowledge during the recruitment process.